"cobrafast' Latches Onto Martial Crown With Venomous Kick

#4 Sports Story

December 30, 1990|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Staff writer

"It was a 'rib-kisser' of which champions are made," wrote contributing writer Mark Seidel of the blow that vaulted Manchester's Michael "Cobrafast" Johnson to the World Martial Mania Federation junior light-heavyweight title over South Africa's Andre "The Giant" Blignaut.

After seven months of intensive training, two days of flying, little sleep and dizzy spells before the May 19 fight -- Johnson made the most of his opportunity.

"I was nervous to start with. I have been the last three months," Johnson said just after the victory in Modderfontein, South Africa.

Regardless of his nerves, he came home a world champion and improved his record to 6-1 by knocking out the former titleholder only seconds into the fourth round.

"It was worth it in the end," Johnson said. "I came to win and take the title, and I achieved what I set out to do."

Johnson, who came into the fight weighing 185 pounds, first stung Blignaut in the third round with a series of "Cobra-thrust" kicks to the stomach, and it appeared the end was near.

"I went in nervous but took charge in the third round, and when the fourth round came around I knew I was the man," Johnson said.

"I knew he was hurt (in the third round) and in the next round I hit him with a jumpback kick," he said.

"It's my most powerful, and I knew he wouldn't recover from that."

Blignaut went airborne and landed on his knees under the ropes as referee Nic Pretorius counted the mandatory 10, which led to the crowning of a new champion.

Seconds later, a joyful Johnson received the all-leather champion ship belt.

Johnson, who turned 23 on Wednesday, is now preparing for his first World Martial Mania Federation title defense against the No. 1-ranked challenger, scheduled for May.

The site of the fight is not yet determined, but there is a good chance it will be right here in Carroll County.

Johnson hopes next year can be as successful for him as 1990.

"It was a great year. Not only did I win a world title, but my business (he owns a Tae Kwon Do karate school in York, Pa.) also has done well," he said.

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